REVIEW: 2013 Lexus RX350 F Sport AWD

IMG_4027SHE SAID: A couple of weeks ago, my family and I had the chance to test drive the all new 2013 Lexus RX F Sport AWD on our road trip down to Washington DC for the UN Foundation Social Good Fellowship.  I have to admit when shopping for a SUV, the Lexus RX350 topped my wish list.  Unfortunately car purchase decisions at the time lied with my husband.  This was 6 years ago.

I was so excited when this thing of beauty arrived in my driveway. We have been looking at new SUV options as our lease is almost up and with Baby #3 on the way, we needed to consider more space.  This car could easily fit our soon-to-be family of 5.  It had a spacious wide cabin and generous leg room in the second row.

IMG_4002 One of my friends, while thought it was “Sweet!”, wondered what the need for a performance SUV was.  I didn’t have the answer at the time, but do now!  I quickly took the car for a spin around the block when it arrived.  I was very impressed with the pick up.  Something you tend to forget when driving an SUV is the expectation of a fast pick up best described in laymen’s terms as when you step on the gas, the car actually moves.  You definitely notice if you’re a sedan driver, the difference in power and movement.  Or having driven another SUV for the past 6 years, I immediately noticed the difference between the F Sport and my SUV.  This car moved! I missed that immediate response of a car. The first thing you notice sitting into the car is that Lexus does not skimp on luxury.  Beautiful leather seating and all the bells and whistles you can imagine like seats that both heat and cool.  My husband was particularly loving the cooling feature as he always complains about his seat being too hot.  There are tons of cup holders, particularly a handy one right on the dash to the left of the steering wheel.  I loved all the storage spaces, especially the expanding front door storage pockets, it fit a liter bottle of water with ease!  For a family, the car can often become our second home touting kids from school and one activity to another.

Coming standard with this car is their SmartAccess system which uses keyless entry and  engine START/STOP button.  While this is not new technology, with it becoming a new standard, it does take some getting use to.  I was amused when my 70 year old father-in-law needed to drive the car for a quick after school pick up (it was the first car in a line of cars in the driveway). When he got into car, I watched from the window as he sat dumbstruck trying to figure out what kind of key this was and where did it plug in.  Easily explained and he was on his way, but I had to have a little chuckle. With that in mind, its important to not forget who has the key.  On an errand run, I started the car and then left the car with my husband as I got a manicure/pedicure.  He drove to the bank a block away, parked, banked and realized that he did not have the car key.   OOPS!  Thank goodness he was only a block away.  Obviously valet attendants are well aware of this little caveat.  We were reminded over and over again to leave the key on the dashboard when dropping off the car.  It’s a learning curve for all!

IMG_4032

I love details and little details that matter are things like the holographic speedometer dubbed “Heads-Up Display” which projects onto the windshield as you’re driving.  As I mentioned before, you tend to forget you’re driving an SUV and before you know it, you’re cruising with such ease you don’t notice how fast you are going all of a sudden-YIKES!  I had that moment a few times.  It also tells you what gear you’re in, RPM and guides your navigation.

I loved the BSM, blind spot monitoring feature.  It quietly alerted me to vehicles in my blind spot with an illuminated icon on my side view mirrors.

 

Some of the standout features of the car was its intuitive navigation and computer system with their handy little mouse control.  I was able to connect my iPhone and the HTC Droid DNA immediately without any use of instruction manuals.  Not only did it immediately connect, it also was able to sync my contacts, caller lists and play list through their Enhanced Bluetooth® technology with automatic phonebook synchronization.  I was very impressed having tested many brands of cars this past year with navigation and none of which was so easy to set up.  You can sync via two methods, either over Bluetooth or via the USB/Aux line which also doubles as a car charger, eliminating the need for purchase of a specific car charger.

IMG_4031

From a family car point of view, little conveniences like the cargo net become huge.  I’m sure they are available for most cars but I didn’t consider how valuable it could be with a roomy trunk and lots of groceries to load.  During one trip to Target I had two gallons of apple juice just floating around back in the trunk and all I could focus on was them rolling back and forth and back and forth.  Once I set up the cargo net, it was peaceful once again.  I won’t be overlooking that accessory again!

The only thing that I would have liked improved was the rear-back up camera.  The view was limited and low to the ground.  I am use to a more wide and broad view from a rear back up camera.   The one feature they did have that was new to me was parking assist sensors which notified me of any obstacles to my parking into a spot, ie., snow banks.

HE SAID:  Well my wife was right, this car certainly moves.  It has an amazing eight-speed transmission, paddle shifters and sport-tuned suspension that is smooth.  This car is definitely made for the fathers who need a little more power.  I must have gotten complacent having driven our current SUV for many years.  With the previous models of the Lexus RX, aside from the luxury and beauty of the car, there wasn’t much that appealed to me as far as choosing it over another SUV.  In all honesty, I chose our current SUV because it was more sporty.  The  Lexus RX350 F Sport is a nice drive and definitely a game changer.  We have a 2-block stretch near our home where either the lights are very fast or our SUV simply doesn’t move fast enough to make it through the 3 lights on this path.  We often find ourselves stuck at two of three of the lights.  The Lexus RX 350 F Sport flew through all 3 lights with such ease.  I wondered what I had been missing all along.  I was also surprised to find that the car was more fuel efficient than our current SUV with a slightly smaller tank at 19.2 gallons to our 21.